1536 VITRUVIUS ARCHITECTURE Italian CAPORALI Perugia RENAISSANCE ART Engineering
Item History and Pricing
Printed in Perugia by Giano Bigazzini, 1536.Translated from Latin into Italian by Giovanni Battista Caporali (ca. 1475 - 1555), with his extensive and interesting commentary.Profusely illustrated with an elaborate woodcut title-page, woodcut portrait of Bigazzini, and 81 furt...her fine architectural woodcuts in text (some of which are full-page).FIRST EDITION OF CAPORALI'S ITALIAN TRANSLATION, comprising the first five of the ten books of Vitruvius. This is one of only two books produced by Bigazzini's private press in Perugia! The printing was done with the collaboration of Caporali himself, Vittorio Muzio, the typesetter, and Jean de Né, the typographer; it was four years (!) in the making (as the preface is dated 1532 and the privilege 1533).This edition contains Caporali's translation of the first five of Vitruvius's ten books (the only ones he translated), based on Cesariano's Italian translation printed in Como in 1521, but claiming to use a purer Italian. The woodcuts are also mostly based on the celebrated 1521 Como edition, with 8 new subjects added. Ruth Mortimer's authoritative Harvard catalog describes the illustrations of our 1536 edition as follows: "Woodcut architectural title-page with [...] the portrait and coat of arms of of the translator Giovanni Battista Capporali in the border. In the upper part is an [allegorical] figure of Architecture with the crowned griffins of Perugia. Woodcut portrait of Giano Bigazzini above Capporali's dedication to Bigazzini on leaf A2 [...] represent[ing] Bigazzini full-length in armor. His coat of arms and device are in the lower part of the block. Eighty-one woodcuts in the text (including two repetitions) 32 x 45 mm to 257 x 190 mm. These are based on the illustrations in the Como Vitruvius of 1521 [of which they] are free copies, reduced or enlarged, some retaining the black ground that was a distinctive feature of the Como cuts, and eight added subjects. The Como blocks of Milan cathedral were not copied." (Mortimer/Harvard, Italian, no. 546)Giovanni Battista Caporali (c. 1476 - 1560) was an Italian Renaissance painter, a follower of Pietro Perugino. He was born at Perugia, son of another Perugian artist, Bartolomeo Caporali. Giovanni Battista trained in his father's workshop, but also worked under both Perugino and Pintoricchio in the early 16th century. Caporali was also an architect; his interest in architecture seems to have started with his meeting with Bramante in Rome in 1508 and culminated in his translation of Vitruvius. He undertook a number of ecclesiastical commissions for frescos in Rome and Perugia, in addition to architectural commissions (including a villa near Cortona, "Il Palazzone," for Cardinal Silvio Passerini), and he also trained the architect Galeazzo Alessi. Caporali's copious commentary accompanying his translation of Vitruvius, offers many valuable observations on contemporary Italian Renaissance art and architecture, including a few important references to Leonardo da Vinci with whom Caporali was personally acquainted. In particular, he gives Leonardo's own statement (fol. 16) regarding his use of a system of perspective with two centers or sight points (doi centri o vederi)."Caporali, an architect, had probably met Leonardo in Rome between 1513 and 1516, and in his  commentary he refers to Leonardo, who had been dead seventeen years: '... And in our time Leonardo Vinci of Florence, with whom we have spoken about this perspective, [...] affirms that he does it, more than the others, with two centers, or rather vanishing points.' This quotation is significant, because it includes a statement made by Leonardo himself." (C.Pedretti, Leonardo Da Vinci on Painting: A Lost Book (Libro A), p.172)Caporali mentions Leonardo again, along with Michelangelo, in his notes on fol.55 while speaking about the classical revival in Milan at the end of the 15th century.Vitruvius' De architectura libri decem is the only complete treatise on architecture and related arts to survive from classical antiquity. This book is the single most important work of architectural history in the Western world, having shaped architecture from the Renaissance to the present. It also strongly influenced the Renaissance ideas of beauty in architecture. The rediscovery of Vitruvius during the Renaissance greatly fueled the revival of classicism during that and subsequent periods. Numerous architectural treatises were inspired by Vitruvius, beginning with Leon Battista Alberti's De re aedificatoria (1485). Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (1st century BC) was a Roman writer, architect and engineer. Little is known of Vitruvius' life, except what can be gathered from his writings. He studied Greek philosophy and science and gained experience in the course of professional work. He was one of the overseers of imperial artillery or military engines, and was architect of at least one building in Augustus' reconstruction of Rome (a basilica at Fanum Fortunae, now the town of Fano, in Pesaro, Italy). Late in life (sometime before 27 BC) and already in ill health Vitruvius completed his celebrated De Architectura ("On Architecture"), a comprehensive handbook for architects, which, after its rediscovery in the fifteenth century, was influential enough to be studied by architects from the early Renaissance to recent times.The contents of the first five books of Vitruvius' treatise, presented here in Caporali's Italian translation, are as follows: Requirements for an architect; town planning; design, cities, aspects; temples. Materials and their treatment. Greek systems. Styles. Forms of Greek temples. Ionic. Styles. Corinthian, Ionic, Doric; Tuscan; altars. Other public buildings (fora, basilicae, theatres, colonnades, baths, harbours).De Architectura was based on Vitruvius's own experience, as well as on theoretical works by famous Greek architects such as Hermogenes. The treatise covers almost every aspect of architecture, but it is limited, since it is based primarily on Greek models, from which Roman architecture was soon decisively to depart in order to serve the new needs of proclaiming a world empire. Vitruvius' outlook is essentially Hellenistic. His wish was to preserve the classical tradition in the design of temples and public buildings, and his prefaces to the separate books of his treatise contain many pessimistic remarks about the contemporary architecture. Most of what Pliny says in his Natural History about Roman construction methods and wall painting was taken from Vitruvius, though unacknowledged. Vitruvius' expressed desire that his name be honoured by posterity was realized. Throughout the antique revival of the Renaissance, the classical phase of the Baroque, and in the Neoclassical period, his work was the chief authority on ancient classical architecture.Among the numerous illustrations of this fine folio edition of Vitruvius are two woodcut representations of the famous "VITRUVIAN MAN." Leonardo da Vinci based his famous "Vitruvian Man" drawing on the description of the ideal human proportions in Chapter 1 of Book III of Vitruvius' De Architectura. Vitruvius wrote about the proportion of the human figure as the principal source of proportion among the orders of architecture. Leonardo's drawing, dating to around the year 1492, as recorded in one of his journals, depicts a nude male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square (the fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order). "As a proof of the harmony and perfection of the human body [Vitruvius] described how a well-built man fits with extended hands and feet exactly into the most perfect geometrical figures, circle and square. This simple picture seemed to reveal a deep and fundamental truth about man and the world, and its importance for Renaissance architects can hardly be overestimated. The image haunted their imagination." (R. Wittkower, Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism, p.14)Bibliographic references:Berlin Kat. 1805; Brunet V:1330; Cicognara I, 706; Fowler architectural collection, 400; Mortimer/Harvard, Italian 546; Millard Italian 159; Sander III, 7700; Thieme-Becker V, p.546.Physical description:Folio, text-block measure 283 mm x 196 mm. Bound in early 20th-century full vellum, with manuscript title to flat spine.Foliation: , 131 leaves (forming 268 pages). Signatures: A12 B-Q8 R2.
Collated and COMPLETE.With elaborate woodcut architectural title, with title cut on the block and the portrait and coat of arms of Caporali in the border, allegories of various arts and griffins (heraldic emblem of Perugia); woodcut portrait of the printer (Giano Bigazzini) at opening of dedication (on A2r); further 81 woodcut illustrations in text, some of which are full-page. Many woodcut initials, including a fine large historiated initial 'Q' on leaf A3r with a perspective view of buildings.Vitruvius' text printed in roman letter, set within Caporali's commentary printed in smaller roman type. Occasional use Greek type.Includes Caporali's privilege granted by Pope Clement VII dated January 19, 1533 (on verso of title), and Caporali's dedication to Count Giano Bigazzini dated November 1, 1532 (leaf A2r,v).Colophon on R2v.Condition:Very Good antiquarian condition. Complete. Vellum binding slightly rubbed with minor soiling. Title with top edge and the gutter inner margin very neatly (almost unnoticeably) reinforced, and with an early ownership inscription to bottom title (name erased); another early owner's signature to top margin of leaf A3r, and an early doodle (possibly also a signature) to bottom margin of C2r, a few other minor marginal ink-marks and 'pointing hands', some occasional underscoring in text. Occasional light browning, and some marginal soiling. A couple of leaves with top margin cropped somewhat close, partially shaving the running title and foliation number, but all text intact. In all a nice, solid example of this uncommon, richly illustrated edition.
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